Following through on a professional referral to Al‑Anon involves a period of transition for clients. The changeover into an Al‑Anon mutual support group setting from counseling or therapy sessions is a new and unfamiliar approach to their clients. Their fears and anxieties can be alleviated by providing background information about Al‑Anon and its benefits to clients.
Tips for clients attending Al‑Anon as newcomers:
- Acquire an understanding that addiction to alcohol is an illness.
- That members’ identities and their sharing at meetings and on a personal basis are confidential.
- To feel free to share or to “pass” at meetings. In Al‑Anon, all members’ views are valid and accepted as their opinions.
- That attending one or more meetings per week on a consistent basis is recommended for personal progress.
- That membership is self‑declared. The only criteria for membership is to be affected by another person’s drinking.
- That contributions are voluntary and are used to support the expenses of each Al‑Anon group.
- That Al‑Anon is a spiritually based program and not religious in nature. Although references to a Higher Power or God are made, Al‑Anon welcomes everyone including those who are atheist or agnostic.
It usually takes several meetings for newcomers to adjust to the peer‑to‑peer exchanges with members of the meeting. For this reason, most groups will suggest to newcomers to attend at least six Al‑Anon meetings. It takes time for clients who are newcomers to feel safe and part of the Al‑Anon group. Members at each meeting typically encourage each newcomer by saying “Keep Coming Back.” This is because experienced members know that the Al‑Anon program works and that answers to the newcomer’s questions will come in due time as part of each individual’s journey in recovery.